Tag Archives: Best U.S. backpacking trips

Backpacking the Grand Canyon’s Thunder River-Deer Creek Loop

November 26, 2018  |  In Backpacking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   4 Comments
A backpacker at a waterfall on the Deer Creek Trail in the Grand Canyon.

Jeff Wilhelm at a waterfall on the Patio, Deer Creek Trail, Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

The heat presses in from all sides as we hike down the Bill Hall Trail off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. The overhead sun feels as if it has expanded to a supernova threatening to engulf the planet. The rocks radiate waves of heat up at us; I wonder if they might actually reach egg-frying temperature today. Even the air seems to be rising to a boil like a vast kettle on a stove. We hike cautiously over broken stones that slide underfoot, leaning out onto our trekking poles for the two- and three-foot ledge drops on this path—which appears better suited to bighorn sheep than to bipedal primates hauling backpacks weighed down with gear, food, and a surplus of a rare element out here: water. Continue reading →

November 19, 2018 Day two backpacking The Narrows in Zion National Park.

The 5 Southwest Backpacking Trips You Should Do First

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   3 Comments

By Michael Lanza

You want to explore the best backpacking in America’s desert Southwest, but you’re not sure where to begin, or how some of these trips you’ve read about compare for scenery and difficulty. You’ve heard about the need to carry huge loads of water, and environmental challenges like dangerous heat, rugged terrain, flash floods and even (gulp) quicksand. Or maybe you’ve taken one or two backpacking trips there and now you’re hungry for another one and seeking ideas for where to go next.

Well, I gotcha covered. The five trips described in this story comprise what might be called a Southwest Backpacking Starter Package. They are all beginner- and family-friendly in terms of trail or route quality, access, and navigability, and some have good water availability. But most importantly, regardless of their relative ease logistically, they all deliver the goods on the kind of adventure and scenery you go to the Southwest hoping to find. Continue reading →

The 10 Best Backpacking Trips in the Southwest

October 22, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   10 Comments
A backpacker on the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

David Ports backpacking the Royal Arch Loop in the Grand Canyon.

By Michael Lanza

Everyone remembers his or her first visit to the desert Southwest. The bizarre, vividly colored geology of southern Utah and Arizona ignites wildfires of the imagination that burn permanent impressions. I recall staring at rock formations sculpted in ways I’d never observed before and thinking, “How can this be?” And you’ll find very worthy dayhikes and roadside eye candy in classic parks like Grand Canyon, Zion, and Canyonlands. But leaving civilization for days to probe more deeply into those parks—and other canyon-country gems you may not know much about—opens invisible doors to experiences that amplify the feelings inspired by these mystical landscapes.

After a quarter-century of chasing the best backpacking trips in southern Utah and the Grand Canyon area, I’ve put together this list of what I submit are the 10 best. Continue reading →

What Zion’s Narrows Closure to Backpackers Means to Us All

September 26, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   1 Comment
A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

A backpacker in The Narrows in Zion National Park.

By Michael Lanza

We rightly think of America’s national parks as inviolable public treasures, protected in perpetuity to remain unchanged forever, always there for us to admire and enjoy. Zion National Park’s closure yesterday of one of the very best backpacking trips in the Southwest—the 16-mile descent of The Narrows from top to bottom—due to a landowner suddenly revoking public access to the trailhead where the trek begins, reminds us that even the best-guarded treasures can be looted. Continue reading →

Photo Gallery: Backpacking the CDT Through Glacier National Park

September 24, 2018  |  In Backpacking, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   Leave a comment

Backpackers hiking toward Piegan Pass in Glacier National Park.

By Michael Lanza

After almost three decades of wilderness backpacking all over the U.S. and around the world, rarely does a new trip immediately leap into my all-time top 10. But that’s exactly what happened when three friends and I recently backpacked a north-south traverse of about 90 miles through Glacier National Park, mostly following the Continental Divide Trail.

Backpacking for six days from Chief Mountain Trailhead, at the Canadian border in the park’s northeast corner to Two Medicine, in the park’s southeast corner, we enjoyed the full Glacier experience, from daily wildlife encounters to scenery unlike anything you can find anywhere else in America—as I think you’ll see in this photo gallery. Continue reading →

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